Although it may not be so true now, new authors often used to be advised to write about what they know. Dan Latus didn't really do that, but he did, and still does, like writing about the places he knows best.
So North Northumberland, where he lives, was the location for the first of his books, Never Look Back . It also features heavily in Run for Home,Living Dangerously and has a passing mention in one or two others.
Some readers may even see in those novels a strong resemblance to the village of Rothbury and the valley of Coquetdale. Dan Latus would decline to add comment, simply insisting that the needs of the writer of fiction sometimes require departure from literal truth and accurate portraiture. His books contain stories, not essays in geography or local history.
Even so, there is no doubt that the stories draw heavily on the lonely, beautiful landscapes of the northern borderlands of Northumberland. They draw, too, on the lives of the people who occupy this very distinctive region.
This is the other British region important to the Dan Latus novels. It's where the author grew up. It is also the region he studied at length in his academic days, intent on understanding better what happened during the heady days of industrialization in the mid-nineteenth century.
Those days are long gone now, of course, but their legacy remains in the iron and steel making towns of Teesside and the mining villages of East Cleveland. And all that is imposed on the still beautiful landscapes of the Cleveland Hills and North York Moors. Frank Doy, the private investigator who appears in many of the Dan Latus novels, lives and works there.
Prague. City of mystery and intrigue. I knew for a long time that it was where I wanted to locate a thriller. The place is a natural. All those dark, romantic buildings and shady lanes, all those unknowable interiors and subterranean passages that dissidents like the late Vaclav Havel have known so well.
In the cataclysmic events of the twentieth century Prague was different to the likes of Warsaw. Somehow it didn’t get destroyed, razed to the ground. Its historic central areas survived, covered in soot and pigeon droppings perhaps, but intact. World War II came and went without great impact on the ancient buildings of Prague, and so too did the decades of Soviet occupation and control.
Yet beneath the surface there was a kind of warfare that carried on incessantly. Prague was a natural stamping ground for all the intelligence agencies, and for so many émigrés from states that had suffered so much worse damage than Czechoslovakia. Their clandestine battles were fought hard. Probably they are still. Certainly Czech ministers have hinted as much in their annual reports concerning the activities of the security services.
I wanted to write a story about some of this, a story fashioned out of my frequent visits to the city over many years. I also wanted to fashion a link with Northumberland, where I live. Out of this came Run for Home. I hope my readers like it.
- Dan Latus
No Place to Hide is a story that begins in a small provincial town in the Algarve, another region with wonderful landscapes and rich in history.
Mostly, now, it's known for its beaches and holiday resorts, but it's also a good place to live for people with a past who don't want to be found.